Does this failed prequel to the Phoenix Award–winning Weetzie Bat (1989) at least succeed as a standalone novel?
It's 1975, and 13-year-old Louise Bat is mourning the death of her parents' marriage. In a first-person voice that breaks any possibility of the magical realism that made the original Dangerous Angels series so powerful, Weetzie explores the scariness of her apartment complex. At school, she forms an outcasts club with anorexic Lily and (requisite for Block) gay best friend Bobby, having friends can protect her only so much from bathroom graffiti and gum in her hair. Worse, the mean girls of junior high have nothing on the scary witchlike inhabitants of unit 13: purple-eyed Hypatia Wiggins and her nasty, Jayne Mansfield–loving daughter Annabelle (any possible connection to Weetzie Bat's purple-eyed, Jayne Mansfield–wannabe witch, Vixanne Wigg, is left undeveloped). But perhaps Weetzie has a guardian angel at both home and school: Winter, Annabelle's brother. Is it Winter who's leaving her the notes that show her L.A. at its most sparkly, mysterious and flavorful? Inexplicably, Weetzie's story concludes by cutting off any possibility of magic in this realism.
A dreamlike tale of bullying and coping that owes slightly too much to nostalgia to work. (Fiction. 12-15)